As his identity currently remains a mystery, Canadian triple-threat producer, songwriter and singer Tep No continues to stay low-key while dropping high-key hits – like his most recent summer release featuring Canadian platinum recording artist Jocelyn Alice on their spirited single titled ‘Never Been Hurt Before.’ Although Tep No personally keeps himself under the radar, his music talent is no secret – having large circulation nationwide through Canadian radio and streams leading into the millions – Tep No continues to set the bar higher with each release.
Listen to Fighting (Teddy Rose Remix) by Tep No:
2019 was no exception, with each vibrant track taking a life of its own – Tep No blessed us throughout the year with original music such as ‘Long Lost Sunday Morning’ and ‘Like A Virgin’ – an ode to Madonna’s 1984 hit. But it doesn’t stop there, as the Toronto-based artist keeps dropping heavy hitting remixes to this day – such as his most recent remix to Virginia To Vegas’ ‘Just Friends and newly dropped remix to Teddy Rose’s track ‘Fighting.’ With his ongoing success, it’s clear that Tep No let’s his music be his identity and we are here for it.
With just a few months left in decade, Tep No’s immense growth stays on the constant rise since he first hit the music scene in the mid-2010’s – resulting in an artist who can truly do it all – from production aspect to writing smooth yet upbeat original music. It’s evident that going into the new decade, we will be hearing so much more from Tep No – and we are hoping that his current success doubles and stays blessing us with his emotional and powerful ever-evolving sound.
Through an exclusive interview with XMPL – Tep No opens up on his music, his work behind ‘Never Been Hurt Before,’ upcoming projects and much more. Listen to ‘Never Been Hurt Before’ and read the full exclusive interview with Tep No below:
XMPL: What first inspired you into producing and how did you eventually find yourself making lifting electronic music?
Tep No: I was big into Metal music back in the day, and I was learning music production on my own so I could record my band. We were trying really hard to be the Deftones. I was also listening to a lot of Trance music and started using Fruity Loops very early on, I still use it.
You recently released your summer single ‘Never Been Hurt Before’ featuring Jocelyn Alice. Can you talk to us about the process that went behind this track?
Jocelyn and Ryan Stewart (good friends btw) sent me a song they co-wrote in Jocelyn’s LA pad, with a piano and vocals. I didn’t write the song for once which was great. If you heard the demo compared to the final version, you’d probably laugh as so much was added production wise. The demo was really barebones, but the vocals and the chord progression felt really strong to me, so I made a full production around it and referenced the piano chords that they had. I decided to make the tempo faster and add a drop with a nice synth Lead part. I thought, ok that’s cool but my label will never release this, it doesn’t sound like a song that I usually release. I shelved it for about 7 months (Very common btw), and then through my manager, the A&Rs heard the last version, and felt that the song was really fitting for Canadian radio. They asked me to finish the song (and this was right before I was about to get married, mind you) and I got it done. Then Miles Walker (Kygo, Selena Gomez, Steve Aoki) did an amazing mix on the track, and the rest is history. It’s on Canadian radio right now, on more than 20 stations.
How did you come to collaborating with Canadian singer Jocelyn Alice for ‘Never Been Hurt Before?’
My manager also manages Jocelyn. Initially I heard Jackpot on the radio a few years back and wanted to remix it, and contacted Milton. We started talking on the phone, and I really needed a manager at the time so we did a trial run. Our partnership has been going strong for 4 years now. I’ve done a few writing sessions with Jocelyn, we know each other very well, we’re good friends and we’re really supportive of each other’s careers. I produced an upcoming song of hers called “Summer Nights” with Ryan Marshall of Walk Off The Earth, really excited about that one.
You recently released a fiery remix to Virginia To Vegas’ track ‘Just Friends.’ What do you normally look for in a song before you decide to remix it?
I’ve known him for a long time, back when me and him were nobodies with no careers. We kept in touch and this was a good opportunity to work with him on a great song. I made a dancier version of it so it could fit different formats such as the Drive at 5 on z103.5. The timing couldn’t have been better (this was also made during the month before I was getting married!). I usually look for really strong vocals and strong melodies, they’re pretty rare these days. Sometimes you get a good singer but a really bad song, sometimes you hear a great song with the wrong singer singing it. When the stars align is when I want to remix, and it’s definitely something I can feel more than anything. Virginia is excellent and I’m surprised that he hasn’t become a top artist in the US yet, but I think it’s only a matter of time. I remember remixing Lewis Capaldi’s Bruises and Fade back when he was just starting, I knew years ago that he’d be a huge artist, no surprise here.
Stream Just Friends (Tep No Remix) below:
What mindset do you have going into making chill tracks like your song ‘Long Lost Sunday Morning?’
I remember singing the hook for years, and never having any music for it. I finally decided to sing an acapella of the track with no tempo and no reference music at all. Then I played a classical guitar and made it into a full dance track. That’s just how I work, I piece a lot of things together and see what fits and what doesn’t. Making music like this, you have to trust the process (and your gut) because you’re all by yourself and you gotta make it happen. There’s a lot of doubt, will it ever get there? What am I doing? Then finally there’s this interesting moment where things click together. It’s very unconventional and scary, but I’ve done it so many times that I trust the process and I know that it will get there eventually. I don’t need 6 different writers or 4 producers etc, I can rely on myself, which is saying a lot in our day and age, where everything is delegated.
What do you hope people take away after listening to a track from Tep No?
I just want people to open their ears and minds, and enjoy themselves. I sometimes get messages about someone’s family member being in a Coma, coming back from war, people dying, people down and out, going through a divorce etc. They’re at their lowest point in their lives, and then they listen to my songs and feel better, it helps them cope with their everyday struggles. I’ve had people wake up from comas and get 100% back in shape, where they thought their brother would die. It just shows that the music I make is a lot bigger than myself as a person, and it makes it all worth it, especially during the days where you want to give up. There’s a lot of synergy around my project, sometimes people forget that Tep No is not just a thing, but a person too.
From your remixes to original music – which track would you say is your personal favourite that you’ve produced from this year?
Listening to Never Been Hurt Before now, especially through all of the things I’ve had to go through, it rang true to me. To be stronger in my everyday life, to let go of the pain from the past, of failed relationships with friends, with family and to move on. To stand beside someone and tell them that they’re ready to move forward. It’s a very powerful message. People get hurt everyday, people feel that loss, and they still have to keep going forward and be a better person.
As a Canadian artist, how do you feel about Canadians in all genres of music finally gaining worldwide recognition, especially in the last decade? What do you think this means for music coming from Canada?
Last time I checked, Alanis Morrissette, Shania Twain, Leonard Cohen, Bryan Adam, Avril Lavigne etc etc became famous worldwide so I disagree, they are not gaining worldwide recognition only now. Canada is a place where you are able to grow as an artist, and to experiment, something I find is lacking with a lot of US artists. You go to LA and everyone cares about making a hit record, having this or that name on a track, commercializing. That’s not my approach, never will be. If you want to find yourself as a recording artist, Canada, and other countries notably Germany, Norway, Sweden and many more, are places where you are able to find your sound and be artistic. I also believe that it’s something that doesn’t happen with Latin music either, as commercial latin songs haven’t really changed in 20 years (How many latin artists sound the same as another? There are tons). Not like Daddy Yankee Despacito and Gasolina are so different, they’re all very similar production wise, and I mean there’s 13 years difference between the two. The only thing that did change is the acceptance of Spanish singing on US radio, which is a huge step forward.
Also, as far as Canadian Rap, unless you personally know Drake or The Weeknd, you cannot be a popular rapper in the US. Same goes with pop too, unless you’re on Justin Beiber’s radar. He’s one of the reasons why artists like Carlie Rae Jepsen have a career, or why Despacito became a huge hit outside of the Latin world. Look at those 3 artists, they are the A&Rs for many successful Canadian artists (Preme, Tory Lanez, Partynextdoor, dvsn, Majid Jordan) also note, they’re all Black (the artists that Drake and The Weeknd promote and sign), which shows how much camaraderie there is with Black Rap/Hip-Hop artists.
What kind of advice would you give to an up-and-coming producer as they’re entering the music industry?
Don’t sign anything until you can afford a lawyer. Find your own sound and understand that as you grow and you gain a fanbase, the sound will evolve as well. Get to know youtube curators, Spotify/Apple music curators and XM Radio/Terrestrial curators, they’re there to help and will lift you up if you have something important to say. And last but not least, be really frigging great at what you do and release great music, or else your chances of gaining traction are really slim. Put the work in, you can’t be partying with a bunch of friends all the time when you have to hone your craft. You want to party? Get good and party at your own shows. Do you want a life of leisure or a life of success? That’s what it all comes down to, you can’t have both.
Do you have any surprises or anything in store for the rest of 2019?
Jocelyn is releasing a song called “Summer Nights” and I produced it, it’s probably my favourite song of 2019, and it’s not even my song! I have other songs that are close to completion, and a few remixes are coming out. I try to release as much music as I can.